For all of their faults, nobody could accuse the Canadiens of being dull this season. Against Washington Monday night, they scored three goals in 1:15 to come from behind and take a 4-2 lead. Then they survived a furious Alexander Ovechkin comeback to force the game into overtime before bowing 5-4 on a goal by former Hab Lars Eller. The Canadiens may have lost the game but few fans left the Bell Centre feeling cheated by the night’s entertainment.
How often can it be stated that a goaltender who let in five goals in a losing effort be considered for a game star?
Carey Price was the only reason the Canadiens got a point against the defending Stanley Cup champions. His third period duel with Alexander Ovechkin was something to behold. Ovechkin had already scored twice in the game, including the tying goal on a two-man advantage early in the third period. With the score still tied, Ovechkin was robbed by Price three times in the final eight minutes of regulation time. His final stop with 3/10th’s of a second left had even Ovechkin congratulating him. He might want another take on the overtime winner by Eller but the Canadiens have taken five of six points since Price had his two-game one-week sabbatical and the fans could be heard chanting “Carey! Carey!” for the first time in over a year at the Bell Centre.
PAYING THE PRICE
One minute into the game Noah Juulsen deflected a Michal Kempny shot up and off his left cheekbone. Five shifts later Juulsen again his stuck his stick out on an incoming shot, this time from Brett Connolly. Off the stick and off the off the same cheekbone. This one sent him to the hospital.
For the final 37 minutes plus the overtime the Canadiens were down to five defencemen against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It showed. Jordie Benn, who had started the game with Mike Reilly was moved up to play with Jeff Petry. Benn wound up playing 24:53 which is far above where his talent should have left him. And he took a bad penalty to put the Canadiens two men short allowing Ovechkin to tie the game early in the third period.
Somebody has to step up and it once again fell on the shoulders of Jeff Petry. Seems like he was on the ice for the entire game. He was actually out there half the game – 33:51 of 63:34. That’s a career high. He scored a goal and assisted on another. It was a bravura performance that got him a well-earned second star. On a very bad defence Petry has often looked like a superstar this season. This was one of those nights.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….The Canadiens scored three goals in the span of 1:15 early in the second period. It chased starting goaltender Pheonix Copley and brought in Brayden Holtby who shut the Canadiens out the rest of the way. His biggest save came in the overtime on Brendan Gallagher.
…..Max Domi drew an assist on the Jeff Petry goal which brings his points streak to ten games, the longest by a Canadiens since Vincent Damphousse in February 1996. Over the ten games he has 5 goals and nine assists. Domi also had a fight leaving him a goal shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Domi is the Canadiens penalty leader with 21 minutes in 21 games.
….Jesperi Kotkaniemi picked up two assists on the same shift as part of the three goal explosion early in the second period.
….While the Canadiens top three lines had productive nights, the fourth line was again a black hole. So much so that in the third period of a tie game they were given only one shift by coach Claude Julien.
….The maligned power play did produce a goal, but leading 4-2 the Canadiens had a chance to score what could have been a clinching goal when Lars Eller was handed a double minor for high sticking Brendan Gallagher. Over the four minutes the Canadiens didn’t accomplish much.
The Canadiens face one of those three-games-in-four-days situations this week. They’re in New Jersey Wednesday and then Buffalo for a 4.00pm Thanksgiving holiday game Friday before returning to the Bell Centre for Saturday’s game against Boston.